Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Song

Ray Davies, formerly of the Kinks, has a new song out called "Thanksgiving Day." As far as I know, it's the first rock song about the holiday. And it's by a Brit!

A local DJ used to say, "Never judge a record until you have heard it three times." Apparently, it takes the ear three listens to understand new music. After three listens, Ray Davies's new song strikes me as... eh. It will probably get some airplay on a few stations -- once a year.

How It Goes

Democrat: We brought these terrorist attacks on ourselves by meddling in foreign countries and exploiting their resources instead of advancing social justice. It’s no wonder the people of those countries hate us. Can you blame them for attacking us?

Republican: No, you’re wro…

Democrat: How DARE you question my patriotism?!

Republican: But…

Democrat: Question this fascist administration and what do you get? You get intimidation! Stifling of dissent! Well, dissent is an American tradition! You can’t shut me up, you Nazi wingnut!

Republican: Wait…

Democrat: Can you believe these McCarthyite bastards? Have they no shame? Every time you think they can’t go lower, they do. Question their policies and they just try to shut you up! I WILL NOT BE SILENCED!

Republican: Well…

Democrat: YOU CAN’T SHUT ME UP! Why, oh why won’t the wingnuts just have a reasonable dialogue without name-calling or intimidation?

Republican: Gosh...

Democrat: Oh, please, just shut up. Shut up. You have already disgraced yourself. You're beneath contempt. Who can talk with these subhuman creatures?

Republican: Actually...

Democrat: HE'S STILL TRYING TO STIFLE DISSENT! What has happened to our country?

Stunner From Sacramento

Found this at PrestoPundit: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next chief of staff will be Susan Kennedy. Who is she?

She managed two of the most successful Get-Out-The-Vote campaigns in recent California history, including the 1992 Coordinated Campaign for Clinton/Gore and the 1998 Coordinated Campaign that elected Governor Gray Davis.
She’s a Democrat, that’s who. I don’t mind that she is pro-choice, but couldn’t Arnold find a pro-choice Republican? This move seems like a capitulation of any free market, small government principle the Governor might have held, however tenuously.

PrestoPundit goes on to write:

I’ve come to regret my vote in the recall election. Tom McClintock would have made a much better governor for the state of California. Schwarzenegger is simply in over his head. He’s failing us and he doesn’t even know it.
I, too voted for Arnold. I thought his admiration of Milton Friedman might give him the spine to fight for smaller government. Disappointed by a Republican again! Arnold’s reaction to the recent defeat of four propositions he supported seems to be, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” No question, McClintock would have made a better Governor. He understands economics. He would have outraged Democrats with his in-your-face style; that is exactly what we need. If you try to get along with socialists, you end up with socialism.

Of course, the argument against McClintock was that he was unelectable. A vote for him would have been a wasted vote; splitting the Republican vote would have let the Democrat win. Well, would things be that much worse with a Democrat Governor? I suspect Cruz Bustamante would have had a Democrat chief of staff, just like Arnold. Democrats don't hire Republicans; they take politics seriously. Government will continue to grow, but come the next crisis the Democrats will evade the blame because the Governor of California is a Republican.

I wonder if Hugh Hewitt regrets shouting on his radio show for McClintock to “Get out! Now!”


James Wolcott is one of the great stylists of the blogosphere. He’s the Mark Steyn of the left. He’s also nasty, venomous and repulsive. For all his brilliance with words, his thinking is most unsound.

Speculating about the eventual withdrawal from Iraq, he quotes Martin van Creveld:

For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.
To which Wolcott adds:

Nuremberg II, anyone?

Always good to remember what the leftists actually think.

Centauri Dreams

If you have any interest in astronomy or space travel, don't miss Centauri Dreams. It's an active blog, updated almost daily, stuffed full of fascinating information.

With the advance in telescopes and computer technology, I think someday soon astronomers will be able to deduce the presence of earth-sized planets from the wobbles in stars.

Where's the Bully Pulpit?

Interesting graph at Polipundit. Why doesn’t the Bush White House make any speeches about the good economic news? The President should know by now that the MSM will be content to ignore good economic news if he is. And why did the White House respond so late to the charges that they lied to get America into war? Bush’s use of the Bully Pulpit has been weak. Is it incompetence? Or could this be the fruit of Christian humility?

UPDATE: Boortz has more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Derrida on 9/11

This interview with Habermas and Derrida on 9/11 is old, but astonishing if you have not seen it. This is a small excerpt of the late Jacques Derrida trying to figure out what happened on 9/11:

"Something" took place, we have the feeling of not having seen it coming, and certain consequences undeniably follow upon the "thing." But this very thing, the place and meaning of this "event," remains ineffable, like an intuition without concept, like a unicity with no generality on the horizon or with no horizon at all, out of range for a language that admits its powerlessness and so is reduced to pronouncing mechanically a date, repeating it endlessly, as a kind of ritual incantation, a conjuring poem, a journalistic litany or rhetorical refrain that admits to not knowing what it's talking about. We do not in fact know what we are saying or naming in this way: September 11, le 11 septembre, September 11. The brevity of the appellation (September 11, 9/11) stems not only from an economic or rhetorical necessity. The telegram of this metonymy—a name, a number—points out the unqualifiable by recognizing that we do not recognize or even cognize that we do not yet know how to qualify, that we do not know what we are talking about.

Being a philosopher should make one more intelligent than the average man. It should give one the ability to make integrations most people cannot imagine. The philosophy of Jacques Derrida, maybe the most famous philosopher of the late 20th century, made him less intelligent than the average man. He could not understand what happened on September 11, 2001. The fact that people use the date to refer to what happened on that day seems to have baffled the man.

McCain In 2008?

Could Senator John McCain become President McCain in 2008? There’s been a lot of buzz about him lately.

Gus Van Horn is worried about the rumblings of McCain in 2008.

JunkYardBlog is disgusted by McCain’s cynicism.

Professor Bainbridge gives a lot of reasons not to vote for McCain.

Stephen Moore has problems with McCain’s economic ideas.

Rich Lowry writes about McCain’s increasing popularity among Republicans.

A few from Capitalism Magazine’s archives:

Robert Tracinski calls McCain a traitor.

Patrick Mullins writes about McCain’s statist vision for America.

Alex Epstein says McCain’s morality leads to statism, here also.

As I was putting together this post, I went to John McCain’s web site to find a proposal of his I remember reading years ago that every American should have to do two years of mandatory national service. At least, that’s what I remember. I could not find the passage on his web site. I scoured the web, but the only thing I could find was this from Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute:

Proponents of a mandatory, universal system, such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), see voluntary programs as a helpful first step and would undoubtedly press for mandatory service once national service became the law of the land.

Many people like John McCain. He’s the media’s favorite Republican. Andrew Sullivan, who is always upset at Bush over something, wishes McCain were President now (sorry, couldn’t find the quote).

I have a friend, let’s call him Joe, whom I plumb to find out what the independent/swing voter thinks on any issue. McCain is one of the few politicians I have heard Joe praise. He says McCain is a “good guy.” He’s impressed by McCain’s honesty.

Joe, like all the independent voters I know, has little interest in politics. He distrusts theory as merely partisan rationalization. When the price of gas goes up, he bitches about the oil companies. When he hears Democrats and Republicans argue, he wonders why they can’t stop squabbling and find a practical solution. Joe voted for Perot in 1992.

McCain has a knack for appealing to non-intellectual, non-partisan voters. And that’s a lot of voters: Perot got 19% of the vote in 1992. If this bloc voted in the Republican primaries, McCain would be the next President of the United States.

Right now the only thing keeping us from a President McCain is that the Republican base can’t stand the man. They see him as a creep who will sell out the party just to get on “Hardball With Chris Matthews” for an hour of softball.

McCain wants power. He has the swing voters and the “national greatness” neocons at the Weekly Standard. He’s probably thinking of some way to break through to religious conservatives. If he can do that, he’s got a good chance.

Reading all the pieces linked to above, a portrait emerges of a mixed economy fascist -- a fascist who supports some good policies. That is, if you have some understanding of capitalism and individual rights. But when Joe hears McCain exhort Americans to “sacrifice for a cause greater than self-interest,” it sounds like what he hears in church on Sunday. Nothing scary there to Joe.

I have never voted for a Democrat. As much as I disliked Bush, I could not punch the ballot next to John Kerry’s name. I know already that if John McCain is the Republican candidate, then I will be voting for Hillary in 2008. I can live with Hillary. A return to gridlock is fine with me. I can’t vote for a man who sees capitalists as robber barons and wants to enslave young Americans to two years of national service.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Well, I've been blogging for 10 days now, since Saturday, November 19. I'm averaging 16 visits per day, most of which are me. Visits per day by comparison:

Daily Kos - 541,210
Instapundit - 124,332
Little Green Footballs - 83,207
Powerline - 65, 077

Okay, you have to start at the bottom. ;)

A blog is a gaping maw, endlessly demanding more content. Let it go a day without a post and you can see the staleness set in like bread hardening at the edges. (I think I just went a simile too far.)

I see this blog as an informal conversation, like letters to a friend. These posts are certainly not finished essays. They're more like first impressions.

I started this blog in the spirit of experimentation, and I'm still in the early stages of discovery. We'll all see how it works out. If the thing ever becomes a chore instead of enjoyment, then I'll probably stop. I mean, I'm not getting paid for this. I'm doing this because it is mentally stimulating and it's nice to have a platform on which to pop off about the issue of the day.

I'm still trying to figure out how personal to get on this blog. I've seen some bloggers write about dating and remarkably intimate things. I'll probably spare the reader that. But then again, if I had a funny or interesting story involving a love relationship, I might write about it -- especially if I could draw a broader conclusion or find a principle.

Why hide behind a pen name, Myrhaf? It's kind of fun to have a nom de plume, a persona. I'm a dramatist and I think of Myrhaf as a character. It adds a little spice to the blog. The name comes from a character in a historical novel about vikings that I have plotted but have not yet written. I started a draft about eight years ago, but was not happy with the quality of the prose. I should try again; I think I'm better now. As a result of calling this blog Myrhaf, I have noticed a lot of visits from Scandinavia on the Site Meter. I suspect they were disappointed to find a discussion of American politics.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sick Humor

A comedian jokes about 9/11:

For comedian Sarah Silverman, Sept. 11, 2001, the worst day in this country’s history, could be twisted into a business coup for American Airlines.

If only the company would use her suggested slogan: “American Airlines: First Through the Towers.”

After all, 9-11 was “devastating” for the New Hampshire-born comic. But not because of the murders of the 2,986 people who died that terrible day.

In the movie “Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic” the 34-year-old jokester quips in the big-screen version of her one-woman show that it was doubly tragic “because it happened to be the exact same day I found out that a soy chai latte was, like, 900 calories.”

Does that make you laugh? I confess, sometimes sick humor does make me laugh, but these jokes leave me cold. I guess I still can't laugh at 2,986 people being incinerated.

It's not that the jokes are "insensitive." I don't care who the hell gets offended by a joke. It's more the values represented by these jokes. If 9/11 is something to be laughed at, then it's insignificant. It's not important.

This is just a hunch, but I'll bet that the overwhelming majority of people who laugh at these jokes are liberals. Yes, they think it's tragic that so many people died, but they don't quite understand what the big deal is. It was just a crime, not an act of war. To liberals, 9/11 is something to mourn, but nothing to get angry about. I have even heard a liberal say, "We just have to get used to living with terrorism the way the Israelis are used to it." That's the attitude that would lead to joking about 9/11.

I don't want to get used to living with terrorism. And I don't want to laugh at 9/11.

(HT: Free Republic)

Poetry, Song Lyrics and Free Verse

A friend of mine objected in an email that poetry is not a dead art. He noted that there are a lot of great song lyrics and that poetry readings in coffee houses are popular.

Song lyrics can have their glories, but I wouldn't call them great poetry. Song lyrics by their nature are slaves to the melodies they accompany. A lyricist does not have the freedom to do the things a poet working free of melody can do. Look at the lyrics of the greatest Broadway lyricists -- Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, Oscar Hammerstein II, Alan Lerner, Dorothy Fields, Stephen Sondheim, and others. If you read their lyrics without the music, they're a little thin as poetry. At best song lyrics are good light poetry.

I've written a lot of song lyrics. In fact, I'm writing pop-rock songs now that I hope to take into a studio next year with my drummer buddy and a female singer. Here's one of my song lyrics:

Better Things to Do

I could mope
I could cry
I could scream
to the sky
I could pine about you
I've got better things to do

I could eat
Haagen Dazs
I could starve
like Kate Moss
drink some beer, whiskey too
I've got better things to do

I could go sailing off in the sunset
or climb a mountain out in Nepal
I could paint pictures or write a novel
or do nothing else at all

So goodbye
fare thee well
don't forget
go to hell
I could say more to you
I've got better things to do

This lyric gets the job done. I hope it even gets a laugh at the end because the line "go to hell" conflicts with the sweet, even melody, as if the singer is saying "go to hell" with a smile on her face. But this song lyric is NOT great poetry. As poetry it's doggeral.

In songs, melody is the master. Melody is always more important than lyrics, although the two should integrate into something even greater than melody alone. The melody in "Better Things to Do" presented a three-note motive to fill; I did it as cleverly as I could.

Mrs. Hammerstein once objected that Jerome Kern did not write "Old Man River." She said something like, "He wrote 'da da dum da.' Oscar wrote Old Man River." That may be true, but da da dum da is more important.

As for coffee houses and MTV's Poetry Slams, that sort of thing, most of that is free verse. I have a radical opinion of free verse, one that is held by few: it's not poetry. It is poetic writing. Poetic writing can be moving and evocative. It can be a lot of things, but not poetry. Poetry requires at least metrical regularity.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Sublime Art

One of my hobbies is listening to Objectivist lectures on tape. I've developed quite a collection over the last 20 years. I think I have everything by Leonard Peikoff that has been sold by Second Renaissance Books, now Ayn Rand Bookstore. The hobby can get expensive. The History of Philosophy cost me almost $600. It's a bargain. You won't find a more fascinating 64 hours and 45 minutes of tape.

I just finished The Sublime Art: An Introduction to the Elements of Poetry by Jason Rheins. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in poetry, which is not many people these days. How the sublime art has fallen in the last century! In the 19th century, people memorized the latest poems; families would read poetry aloud in drawing rooms. Today it is a dead art -- dead because most people find no value in poetry without beauty and form.

It's a pity that poetry is now the most minor of arts. Pre-modern poetry can be profoundly moving, ennobling even. But the inexperienced reader should approach poetry with a knowledgable guide or else his eyes will glaze over at anything longer than a sonnet, and many readers will not make it to line 14 of a sonnet. Like classical music or any field of study, the more you know about it, the more you enjoy it. That's where Rheins's course is valuable. He introduces the student to all the aspects of poetry -- meter, rhyme, metaphor, and so on -- and he makes it interesting. This course could have been called, "How to Read a Poem."

You can't just read poetry for sense the way you read prose. You must be aware of the formal elements. If a rhyme scheme is abba, then you need to be aware of this to appreciate it fully. If a poet writes spencerian stanzas or petrarchan sonnets, you can't enjoy the poem without some understanding of the form. If a poet starts a line of iambic pentameter with a trochaic inversion, you'll miss it if you don't subject the line to a quick metrical analysis. It takes some effort at first before these methods of reading become habit.

Is poetry worth the effort it takes to enjoy it? That judgment depends on each individual's taste. I personally am thrilled by the masterly use of the english language in great poetry. Jason Rheins's course has deepened my understanding and reinvigorated my reading. Rheins has made poetry a greater value to me. Can't ask for more than that.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Psychologizing the Left

You see it everywhere on the right wing of the blogosphere: the acronym "BDS." It stands for Bush Derangement Syndrome and it was coined by Charles Krauthammer. It is an attempt to give a psychological explanation for the left's irrational, sometimes hysterical hatred of President Bush.

Dr. Sanity takes the trend even farther:

Rather than blame the terrorists; rather than admiting they have to take action against them; their fear is transformed to anger and displaced onto President Bush. If everything is his fault, then the reality of what happened does not have to be faced (this also explains the intense psychological denial that these same individuals tend to have about 9/11).

It's an attractive theory. The left certainly does seem deranged, or Unhinged, as Michelle Malkin puts it. I've used the term BDS myself, although I now think that was a mistake.

All this is an attempt by conservatives who do not understand the role of philosophy in life to make sense of the left. They remind me of the Birchers, who used to blame everything the left did on conspiracies. The John Birch Society did not understand that people who hold the same fundamental philosophical ideas will tend to agree on specific political policies. If people believe in collectivism, statism and moral relativism, then policies such as government controlled education and the UN tend to follow.

The left's hatred of Bush comes from the left's ideas, not from neurotic defense mechanisms.

Dennis Prager gets closer to the truth on this issue:

...Democrats believe that conservatives by definition are bad people. As Howard Dean, the head of the Democratic National Committee recently said, "in contradistinction" to Republicans, Democrats care if children go to bed hungry at night. In most Democrats' minds, conservatives/Republicans do not care if children go to bed hungry, and they are racist, intolerant, regard women as inferior, are stingy and mean spirited, and prefer war to peace.

The reason they see conservatives this way is that most people on the Left are certain that they mean well; therefore their opponents do not mean well. Moreover, liberals tend to assess policy positions on that basis -- are the motives good? -- rather than on the basis of what actually does good.

Liberals think their motives are good and conservative motives are bad. No question. That's why liberal welfare state policies can fail again and again over the course of decades, but their impracticality is meaningless to liberals; their policies are moral (in their thinking), and morality is more important than practicality.

But I think there's something deeper going on here. The left -- and modern philosophy in general -- does not have confidence in reason. Instead, they are subjectivists. What's true for you might not be true for me.

The old left was Marxist. They believed that different classes had different logics or ways of thinking. The New Left, less abstract in its thinking, puts different ways of thinking in ethnic groups, male and female sexes, sexual preference, and who knows what else.

With the fall of the Old Left and socialism, which was reputed to be "scientific," the New Left has lost confidence in reason. When you throw out reason, anything goes. If rational argumentation is powerless, then force fills the void. And one form of force is character assassination. The politics of personal destruction. "Borking" would have been unthinkable 50 years ago; now it is SOP for Democrats.

The left's certainty that it is morally right combines with its irrationalism to give it a distinctly emotional style that falls all too easily into ad hominem attacks. This is the root cause of its hysterical, irrational attacks on President Bush. It's not neuroses, it's philosophy.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I'll be eating too much, then watching the Lakers at 7:30pm.

Here is Gary Hull's annual Objectivist defense of Thanksgiving.

This year we can read the opposite view, No Thanks to Thanksgiving by Robert Jensen (thanks to Right Wing News for pointing this one out). This New Leftist says:

"One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting."

Just think, if John Kerry were President, Professor Jensen might have some won some sinecure in the bureaucracy, Vice Undersecretary of Anti-American Self-Loathing. Or something.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It Never Ends

Back in the '80s a libertarian once told me that Leonard Peikoff was a bad Objectivist because he moved to California. His argument was that Ayn Rand thought New York City was the only place to live, therefore all Objectivists should want to live there.

The libertarian confused Ayn Rand's personal preferences with philosophic principles. Philosophy deals with broad issues that are the same throughout history -- the nature of reality, sense perception, etc. There is no philosophic principle that says one should live in New York City as opposed to California. There is no Objectivist position on this, no neo-platonist position, no linguistic analysist position.

To raise Rand's personal preferences to philosophic principles is to make her a cult leader rather than the founder of a philosophy. In my experience, libertarians and other enemies of Objectivism make this mistake more often than Objectivists do. Young Objectivists sometimes make this mistake.

I also heard back in the '80s that Objectivists shouldn't have facial hair because Ayn Rand didn't like beards. You heard a lot of weird stuff back in the day. But then, you hear a lot of weird stuff now. In an article called "Who Needs Ayn Rand?" in the September, 2005 Commentary, Algis Valiunas wrote, "The sort of child who does not play well with others, [Rand] inhabited a mental world of dreamy grandeur."

Where does Valiunas get this? Is there evidence the young Ayn Rand didn't play well with others, or is he just pulling this out of his ass?

The Towers of Ilium

Wednesday, quoth annika, is poetry day. Here's one by me.

The Towers of Ilium

When fell the gleaming towers over Troy,
No answer to the Greeks’ deceptive ploy,
Collapsing from within upon the walls,
As stone and timber rained like waterfalls
In deadly showers crashing on those men,
And thousands crossed the Styx to Hades then;

When danced Odysseus on bloody sand
Before his blue-green tent along the strand,
His armor thrown aside, the battle done,
His armor burnished in the low red sun,
His naked dance to Nike, pagan howl,
He guzzled wine of Troy, ate Trojan fowl;

When wept the Trojan virgins in their chains
As Greeks befouled their beds with bridal stains,
As fists tore from their bodies dress and strap,
Then moisture mixed with moisture in the lap,
Those groping warriors, black with sweat and grime,
They mounted, muscles clenching, beating time;

When thrust the burning spears into the vault
Where treasure lay not safe from this assault:
Electrum pieces, emeralds and pearls,
And golden crowns inlaid with ebon swirls,
Pink coral set in silver winding wire,
Blue diamonds that held the light in fire;

Did then the vanquished Trojans blame their fall
On their own fighting back, on standing tall?
Did cowards say, ‘No Greeks would be inside
If we had beaten first our haughty pride;
If we had bowed our heads to best obey,
The Hellenes would have sailed their ships away’?

Such words would have been laughed at as insane
By men who tamed wild horses on the plain.
The Greeks were at the gate, the dogs of war
Unleashed to kill or be killed, nothing more.
No bended knee could stop them at the wall,
For those who will not stand must surely fall.

Pajamas Media

A group of successful bloggers have formed Pajamas Media in an attempt to make a profit on the internet. I wish them the best. The odor of envy is strong among the right-wing detractors. The odor among left-wing detractors is just the venom I expect from them.

I don't know if it will work. The web site looks a bit bland right now. I think their strength will be as a portal to blogs. That's what Instapundit is for me; I go there not so much for Glenn Reynolds's opinion, but because I depend on him to link to good stuff. Reynolds does this at PJM with a Blogjam (or Carnival -- which is it?) on prewar intelligence. When a hot issue breaks, PJM can put together in one place links to all their bloggers and others.

As for making money, I suspect PJM will be a springboard to other activities that bring in bucks rather than a money maker itself. For instance, there might be a PJM lecture series in which famous bloggers talk to corporate and educational institutions. Big bucks there. Or a cable channel might give famous bloggers a show. That kind of thing. In other words, PJM can provide the visibility that leads to riches. Of course, blogs can do that on their own, so we'll see if PJM is superfluous. Or maybe PJM is just the kind of organization bloggers need to gain credibility from the MSM and the corporate world.

If they can keep their expenses down, they will probably survive.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Future of the Left

All the vitriol and hysteria the left directs toward Bush is astonishing when you consider that he is NOT a conservative ideologue. He's not a movement conservative.

George W. Bush is an odd mixture of three Republican factions. He is one part neoconservative, one part religious conservative and one part country club Republican. These three aspects combine to make a man much loathed by the left. His neoconservatism makes him a warrior, which goes against the left's anti-americanism and pacifism. His religious conservatism makes him a man of faith, which goes against the left's secular humanism. His country club Republicanism makes him a man of privilege and anti-intellectuality, which goes against the left's egalitarianism and intellectuality. (Well, the old left used to be intellectual.)

Tragically missing from Bush's character is the most important faction of the right, the free market Republican. It's clear that Bush has no understanding and no love of free market economics. His one free market accomplishment, the tax cut, owes more to Rove's polling than to Bush's reading of Ludwig von Mises. In fact, the idea of Bush trying to read Human Action is amusing.

Other than the tax cut, Bush has actually governed to Bill Clinton's left on economic matters. Spending has exploded under Bush as the Republican Congress never let it do under Clinton. The prescription drug monster is the biggest government welfare program since LBJ. The education bill, steel tariffs -- the bad news goes on and on, more than I can keep track of.

This raises an interesting question. What would the left do if a free market ideologue were elected president? I mean, a man who spent his youth reading Mises and Friedman and maybe even Ayn Rand. (Hey, this is my fantasy. Might as well go all the way.) Someone whose soul was inspired by the ideal of laissez-faire capitalism. Someone who joined the Republican Party because he wanted to change the world and saw that the Democrats were socialists and the Libertarians were anarchists. Someone who actually wanted to do the things the left accuses Bush of wanting to do, who wanted to repeal every law back to the antitrust laws of 1872.

What would the left do? Some would really move to Canada, as so many of them promise to do every time the Republicans win an election. Most would just keep doing what they're doing now, except louder and less rationally, if that's possible.

Most significantly, I do believe, a small minority would begin direct, violent, revolutionary action against the government. This minority would grow in numbers with each successful rollback of the welfare state the left has been building since the Progressive Era.

At some point I think violence from the left is inevitable. Once it becomes clear that ballots work against them, then the left will resort to bullets. You can see the intellectual groundwork for violence at places like Democratic Underground when they rail about how evil the Republicans are and how hopelessly blind the masses are and how the elections are rigged by Diebold. If all these fantasies were true, then patriotic leftists would have no recourse but to take up arms against the evil corporate fascists who have stolen our country.

So far the left is mostly talk, except for a few fringe activists. But as the intelligentsia of 19th century Russia found out, talk has a way of leading to action.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Passion of the Superman

Via Michelle Malkin I saw the trailer for SUPERMAN RETURNS.

The voice-over, presumably Jor-El, says:

"They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the
light to show them the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good,
I have sent them you, my only son."

Superman as Jesus Christ? Is this an attempt by liberal Hollywood to woo back audience in the red states?

Link Ray, RIP

A Rock'n'Roll guitar god is dead at the age of 76. Most people probably don't know the name Link Ray, but they might recognize his signature song, "Rumble." Ray has been called the father of the power chord. He showed rock that you don't need Chuck Berry's chunky lead or Dick Dale's surfer guitar pyrotechnics. Just playing chords on an electric guitar can get it done.

"Rumble" has a haunting power. Its greatness lies in its simplicity. That slow, even chord progression, D-D-E, D-D-E, is unforgettable. It's the kind of riff that teenage garage bands could jam on for hours.

Ray is the man who inspired a teenage Pete Townshend to pick up a guitar, and you can hear his influence in the Who and the Kinks.

Lakers: 10 Games In

For the first time I can remember, the Clippers are clearly the best basketball team in LA. They have many excellent players: Sam Cassell, Corey Maggette, Elton Brand, Cuttino Mobley. Shut down one and you still have your hands full.

The Lakers, on the other hand, have the greatest player in the game today, Kobe Bryant, and Lamar Odom, who is supposed to be great, although I haven't seen a whole lot of greatness from him. And then they have a bunch of role players and question marks. Some of the question marks might develop to the level of the Clippers' quartet, but they have yet to prove themselves.

The mantra going into this season was "Fix the defense and the offense will take care of itself." Well, after 10 games I'm seeing some big offensive problems. Instead of the triangle offense, they're playing the famous "Stand around and watch Kobe" offense.

"Stand around and watch Kobe" is not much of an offense. It's really easy to defend: double- or triple-team Kobe and make the other guys beat you. This is the offense the Lakers ran last year; they didn't make the playoffs with it. The 4-6 Lakers could be 7-3 right now if their offense hadn't broken down so much.

The 2005-2006 Lakers are a young team, the third youngest in the NBA. They have young legs. They should be running older teams into the ground. Run and gun. They need a point guard with the mentality of Steve Nash or Magic Johnson. Showtime, baby.

Instead, Phil Jackson is trying to force this young team into the triangle offense. The triangle, if I understand it, is not about running; it's about finding a spot on the floor and passing to the open man. So far in the season this team either does not understand or does not believe in the triangle. Maybe they'll get the hang of it. Or maybe Phil will junk it and go with something simpler. Apparently, the the triangle is hard for some players to understand. Gary Payton never did get it.

Phil Jackson might be the greatest coach of all time. He might face the biggest challenge of his career with this young team. It makes good drama. Always drama with the Lakers. Hey, it's Hollywood. What do you expect?

There's probably a lot going on with the Lakers that I don't understand or know about. This fan has spoken.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hugh Hewitt

I respect Hugh Hewitt. He is intelligent and good natured and he's not a screamer like Michael Savage. I like how he tries to get liberals on his show. I put all this up front because I am about to get negative.

I first realized there was something wrong with the Hugh Hewitt Show during the California recall election. He spent show after show calling for Tom McClintock to drop out of the race, at one point literally shouting, "Get out! Now!" Hewitt wanted McClintock out because he feared the Republican vote might split and the Democrat would win. There was very little discussion of what Arnold Schwarzenegger actually stood for or whether he would be a good governor. Writers such as George Neumayr revealed that Arnold had radical environmentalists advising him; nothing like this was touched on Hewitt's show. It became obvious that the Hugh Hewitt Show is dedicated not to the advance of truth, but merely to the advance of the Republican Party. There is a difference.

Hugh Hewitt thinks too much like a political operative. I once heard him berate a caller -- a caller! -- for going off message. The caller was a Republican who was unhappy with Bush over something. Hewitt cut him off, saying something like, "This your chance to talk to millions and you waste your precious seconds going after Bush?"

Now, Hewitt does take the occasional (mild) shot at Bush, but it's just something he can point to when he gets criticism such as this. The other 99% of the time he toes the party line, and all too often that means spin.

Hewitt's political mindset embarrassed him in the Miers nomination debacle. He immediately endorsed Miers, calling her a B+ nominee before he knew anything about her except that she was the woman Bush chose. Conservatives who were able to think in principle rather than just as political partisans saw that Miers was hopelessly unqualified to sit on the Supreme Court. With each revelation of the mediocrity of the nominee's mind, Hewitt was more embarrassed, but he remained Bush's loyal soldier all the way.

At this point I suspect everything Hugh Hewitt says. If he opened his show with, "It's raining outside," I would wonder how a weather report helps the Republican Party.

The Republican Party is a party in crisis. It now controls all branches of government, and yet the liberal welfare state continues to thrive. Government grows. Spending skyrockets. The war is fought neither hard enough nor well enough. America continues to appease deadly enemies such as Iran. Republicans succeed at getting elected, but fail at governing with principles. Partisans like Hugh Hewitt need to reorder their priorities; getting Republicans elected is not as important as advancing freedom and individual rights.

Republicans Almost Get It Right

I agree with John Hinderaker that the vote on immediate withdrawal from Iraq was a missed opportunity. It's a great idea to make the Democrats put up or shut up on Iraq. They've been doing a lot of talking about immediate withdrawal. Talk is cheap. Let's vote on it. But the Republicans should have used Murtha's actual resolution instead of rewriting it and then calling it the "Murtha Resolution."

Imagine if Tom DeLay offered a resolution that the Democrats rewrote for their own purpose of embarrassing the Republicans, then called it the "DeLay Resolution." Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt would howl.

I give the Republicans a C+. Good idea, flawed execution. (Why is it that even when the Republicans come up with a good idea, they still manage to shoot themselves in the foot?)

Even with the flaw, the vote shows what a tremendous bind the Democrat Party is in. It must please its leftist base. It can't survive without the huge money from the likes of George Soros and At the same time the party can't survive if it alienates the non-leftist voters that make up, what -- 65% of America? 70%? 75%?

I sometimes think that if every voter in America read Democratic Underground for one hour, the Democrat Party would go the way of the Whigs. A lot of people vote Democrat because they think it's their father's Democrat Party. It's not. It is now a New Leftist party. The New Left arose in the '60s and '70s dedicated to a group of ideas: multiculturalism, feminism, environmentalism. And yes, part of the mix was anti-americanism. The New Left's two great victories in its salad days were the Vietnam antiwar movement and Watergate; the Democrats are now trying to repeat the successes of their youth with Iraq and Plamegate. (Insert line about history as tragedy repeated by farce.)

The Republicans should come up with more votes designed to reveal the true nature of the Democrats. When a Democrat produces a resolution meant to placate the party's leftist base, the Republicans should rush it to the House floor. Get it out there so every American can see the truth. Make the Democrats vote on it. The Kossacks will scream, "New McCarthyism!" Well, it is like the old McCarthyism if you define McCarthyism as I do: telling the truth about the left.